What are all those numbers are at the end of the ABC report?

Are the free newspapers that you see at the airport when you get on a plane counted as a sale?  What about the copies you get  given after a football game or the copies you can pick up while you are at Fitness First?  The answers are in the ‘bucket’ numbers at the end of the ABC report.

The headline figure, which is the one that tends to gets reported, is the Average Net Paid Sales (ANPS) figure.  This number includes all copies of the magazine that are sold at newsagencies, supermarkets, via subscription etc.  It also includes other sales that are broken out into ‘buckets’.  These are –

  • Accommodation and Hotel Sales – the ones that you find on the coffee table in a hotel room
  • Airline Sales – the copies that get given out as you board a plane or in the airline lounges
  • Bundles Sales – where  a magazine or newspaper is sold in a package with another
  • Event Sales (which is capped at 2% of total sales) – these are the copies you get when you leave the football
  • School Sales – for education purposes
  • Tertiary Education Subscription Sales – sold to university students
  • Multiple Publication Sales – bulk sales

All of these sales are paid sales.  It is just that in the instances of Accommodation, Airline, School and Event copies, the sale is to a third party (the hotel, the airline etc) not direct to the consumer.  So while they may be ‘free’ to the person receiving the paper they are paid for copies in terms of the overall ABC sales figure. (You effectively pay for them as part of your ticket price or membership fee).

In addition the last column in the report shows any issues that have been excluded during the audit period.

This extra information can give us additional insight into the performance of a publication.  For example –

  • Every year we get asked if people read newspapers over Christmas.  The quarterly release does not give us any seasonal insight  so we cannot answer that question.   However the exclusions give us a strong indication.  For example in the latest report, the Adelaide Advertiser excluded all copies from 17th to 31st December from the audit.  Pretty sure they would not do that if they were selling well.
  • Masterchef magazine which had a substantial overall drop in circulation has also increased Airline and Accommodation sales very significantly over the last year which suggests that newsstand sales are even worse than suggested by the headline number and that the downward trend will therefore likely to continue.

Importantly, circulation gives us the most recent data in the market about a mastheads performance as it is reporting on the last quarter (for dailies and weeklies) or last 6 months (for monthlies) while readership is reporting on the average of the last 12 months.   Using all of the data in the ABC report can give you an extra understanding of a mastheads performance and an indicator of future performance.  Simply, if you are not using this information then you are not getting  full value from the report.

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